Radiant Flooring - "Dry" system advice

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Old 03-02-06, 12:09 PM
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Radiant Flooring - "Dry" system advice

Hi,

I'm in the process (continual process that is) of renovating my 90-year old farm house. I live in New Brunswick, Canada. We recently installed a heat-pump, which we're happy with. It is cheaper than oil to run, but because we have hardwood flooring, it usually feels cold on the feet.

I'm considering running radiant tubing between the joists on the first floor, but I'm not quite sure how to address the basement (new concrete floor) which is not yet finished and the second floor. Just wondering what the best approach would be for addressing the basement and 2nd floor, as well as what type of boiler I should consider (wood is plentiful in our area). Also, I've read certain articles that say that radiant heating can cause warping and/or splitting of hardwood flooring, is this an issue to consider? Any other advice you can provide is well appreciated.

Thanks.
 
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Old 03-02-06, 07:52 PM
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jacobya,
i am not one who really wants to ?????.
but what do you want? from what i can tell,
you may need a engineer to get it right.
we can offer a mulitude of suggestions,
but it might not be right for your application.
boiler?, concrete basement?,wood as a source
of heat? how many stories of the home needs to
be heated?cooled? you are correct that without a
way to keep the humidity level in check, you can have
a problem with the flooring drying out too quickly
causing the problems that you are describing
but a 90 yr. house, everything should be dried
out by now.
please help with more info,

barry
 
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Old 03-03-06, 01:04 PM
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jacobya, Warping and splitting aren't generally problems unless the floor was installed too tightly and there is no room for the increased movement that will be caused by the radiant heat. There is little way to predict if it might be a problem in your situation.

There are several products available to deal with the basement floor, the simplest being thinset, but it's important to make sure there is some form of insulation/barrier between the heat and the earth. There are several products that might be helpful. Search on "EasyFloor" or "warmboard" to see some examples. There are others as well. As for the second floor, unless you are able to get to the underside or are willing to cover the existing floors, there is no solution.

This is an interesting post in that few people have the budget available to install hydronic as a secondary heat source so I'm not sure how far you really want to go. I've not seen a hydronic system that is designed just to warm the floor. You will really be installing a full scale heating system and only using a fraction of it's potential. Out of curiosity, why have you chosen hydronic over an electric warm floor system? Electric might be more easily sized to meet your needs and would definitely be more cost effective.

Doug M
 
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Old 03-03-06, 08:43 PM
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I have installed a hydronic floor warming system using a heat pump. I used a water to water ground source heat pump and added a 50 gallon tank for storage. The floors are warmed from this tank. I then installed a water coil with forced air with electric heat strips for primary heat and emergency heat. The customer says her floors are always warm and it is very cheap to heat her house.
 
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Old 03-04-06, 12:10 PM
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Hi guys,

The floor is not tightly installed, not like the floors are typically installed now, so it sounds like warping/splitting might not be an issue. As far as the second floor goes, I am going to be removing carpet and laying down hardwood, so I'll take a look at the easyfloor/warmboard products to see if they might be an option there, as well as the basement.

I agree, this type of system isn't usually used as a supplementary heating system (atleast I haven't seen any scenarios where it is), but my thinking is that, while I'm in the process of tearing the house apart, and while I still have access to the floors to install this type of system, I will atleast lay the groundwork for hydronic heating, to be used later as either a supplementary or primary heat source. A friend of mine is a plumber, so he can get the pex at wholesale cost so my plan is to run the piping and insulation now, and then purchase the remaining components of the system (manifolds, boiler, etc.) later when the budget allows.

thermofridge: The type of setup that you mention sounds very interesting and economical. When I purchased my heat pump system, I was foolish and cheaped out on an air-to-air system instead of a water-based one, which is what I should have done. I think that maybe I should consider this type of setup further as I already have the ductwork for my existing heatpump and I'll soon have the groundwork for the radiant flooring as well.

A couple questions for you about this system: when you say water to water, I'm assuming you mean a 2 well setup and not a ground loop? How big was the house where this was installed? Who is the heat pump manufacturer that you installed (and typically install)? What was the ballpark cost for the whole setup? I'd probably have a few more questions if you don't mind, I find this really interesting.

Thanks everyone.
 
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Old 03-04-06, 01:15 PM
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One thing you have to consider is you will be reducing the heating load on your heat pump by adding another heat source.
This will reduce the running time of the heat pump and negatively affect any energy savings you are getting from it.

How about just filling the floor joists with insulation to at least have the floor the same temp as the room?
 
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Old 03-04-06, 01:24 PM
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Good point Greg, one that I hadn't considered. Do you think this would still be an issue with the type of setup thermofridge has referred to?
 
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Old 03-04-06, 02:26 PM
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I used a Hydron Module heat pump http://www.hydronmodule.com/ When I said water to water, I meant it transfers heat from groundwater to a water storage tank in the house. In a conventional heat pump set up the heat is tranfered to air through the A coil in the air handler. In this one water is circulated through an exchanger that pulls the heat out and stores it in a tank. I have installed 8 different brands of GWHP in the past 15 years and this one is the best. It costs more than others but you get what you pay for. The cost of the install was around 16,000 if I remember right. This was 6 years ago in a 1200 sq ft log home.
 
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Old 03-04-06, 02:31 PM
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The system thermo describes is a deluxe set-up that would unfortunately require you to abandon your present system.
You would need to install a hp that would give you the water to be able to circulate to heat the floor.
You could likely keep your present blower and ductwork for a/c.

I might suggest that simple might be better in your case.
 
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